By Katherine Applegate
Newbery Award Winner
The One and Only Ivan tells us the story of a lonely gorilla living at the run-down Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. His only companions are Julia, the janitor’s daughter and Stella, the elephant who has many cool stories about her past.
He spends his long days being admired and “oohed” and “aahed” over by humans. Their lives get more interesting when Ruby, a baby elephant joins them there. She’s witty and nervous, at first, but has spirit.
When Stella dies, and leaves Ivan with a promise to take care of Stella, he’s determined to get both of them to the zoo.
This story was really inspiring to me because it was based on a true story, and it shows you should never underestimate the power of determination. Especially when it comes in a four-legged package. Katherine Applegate does a splendid job of depicting a fictional version of Ivan.
It was really cool because I had the opportunity to do an interview with Ms. Applegate over Skype last spring, and I hope I will get to meet her in person at the National Book Festival in Washington this weekend!